The postal ballot for Overseers of the University, an important change in the method of choosing the members of this governing board, will go into effect this year.
The new regulations provide that the alumni may vote for Overseers either by marking a ballot which will be mailed about April 15 to all alumni eligible to vote, and by returning it on or before Commencement, or else by voting in Cambridge on Commencement Day at the polls which will be held for the present as heretofore.
This new arrangement is the result of a widespread movement among the graduates, especially those in the West, to provide a method of electing Overseers which will give men a chance to vote who cannot be in Cambridge at Commencement. The decision to change the method was made by the Governing Boards last winter, on the recommendation of a committee of the Associated Harvard Clubs headed by President Eliot. An act of the Massachusetts General Court, approved last March, and later assented to by the Governing Boards, gave the University authorities the right to make a change. It was decided to introduce a postal ballot, but to retain also the balloting at the polls on Commencement Day, as this has become a traditional feature of the Commencement program which many graduates would be loath to give up.
Send Preliminary Ballots
The complete new plan of electing each year the five Overseers to be chosen by the graduates for a six-year term is therefore as follows: Early in the winter the standing committee on nominations of the Alumni Association nominates some 20 candidates (or more if there are extra vacancies in the Board to be filled). The names of these men are placed on a preliminary postal ballot sent about February first to all graduates eligible to vote. These preliminary ballots must be returned by April first, and the names of the ten candidates (or more if there are extra vacancies to be filled) who receive the largest number of votes will be placed on the final ballot, together with the names of any other candidate nominated by petition of 200 graduates.
The final postal ballot, containing these ten or more names, will be sent about April 15 to all alumni eligible to vote. No ballot so voted will be counted unless received by 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Commencement Day. Also the polls will be open at Massachusetts Hall on Commencement Day from 10 until 3. Arrangements will be made so that no men who have already voted by mail may vote at the polls, and no ballot received by mail on Commencement Day from a man who has already voted at the polls will be counted. The five men (or more if there are extra vacancies) who receive the largest number of votes will become Overseers. It is expected that the announcement of newly elected members can be made as heretofore on the afternoon of Commencement Day.
Alumni Association Follows Plan
Directors of the Alumni Association will be elected by a similar method. A forum of the Association will be held on February 14 at University Hall, to effect the necessary changes in the constitution of the Association to bring this about. Such forums are the established method of changing the constitution of the Association. The last one was held in 1916.
The Board of Overseers, consisting of the President and Treasurer of the University and 30 other men, is one of the two Governing Boards of the University, the other one being the Corporation or "President and Fellows". The Board of Overseers was established by an act of the General Court in 1642, and since the granting of the college charter in 1650 its duty has been to supervise the administration of the College by the Corporation. Originally the Overseers were a group of ministers and public officials, but since 1866 they have been elected by the graduates. They have a vote power on the more important acts and appointments of the Corporation, and serve to keep the institution in touch with the large body of alumni and with the public.